Feb 12, 2023

A Better Deal For Asheville: Baseball, Benefits, And Use Of Space at McCormick Field

Asheville has been pitched a narrative: it’s either Tourists or no baseball at our public McCormick Field. There’s more to the game, including how and when our public park facility is used and who benefits. It’s time to step up to the plate and keep our eye on the ball for a winning run for Asheville!

Behind the scenes at McCormick Field (Roney, 2022)

I’ve enjoyed Asheville Tourists games at McCormick Field with friends and neighbors of all ages! If we lose the Tourists, we can still program baseball activity on McCormick Field. There will be costs to maintain the facility regardless, and based on my behind the scenes tour, there are expensive and deferred maintenance issues. Considering urgent priorities in our community, here are some questions I’m asking about benefits and use of space at McCormick Field:

1. Neighborhood Resiliency

a. What is the current negotiation for non-baseball use of the facility? Can we phase it up at a percentage over the life of the contract?

b. What are the draft agreements for postseason programming? Through Parks & Rec? How will outside groups be able to rent the facility? (weddings, graduations, festivals, ice-skating, etc.)

c. Will there be tiered rentals for non-profits and/or a way to prioritize affordable, family-friendly activities? (art shows, trivia, etc)

d. Are there ways to include rental agreement for the facility features like the concourse or parking lot for food security in the neighborhood? (food truck events, tailgate market, etc.)

2. Equity & Engagement

a. What are the agreements to connect to Asheville’s rich baseball history in addition to the historic tourists that the team takes its name from? (Asheville Blues champion 1946-1947 banner year-round, Asheville Royal Giants, etc)

b. Some cities include a percentage of revenue that goes to the municipality. Can we contract for something similar to benefit the neighborhood of East End/Valley Street? 

c. Because required investments for MLB include upgrades for gender-inclusive bathrooms, what are some ways to document/communicate the outcomes? For example, changes in participant/staffing inclusivity? Does our Parks & Rec programming have a statement on inclusive engagement/welcoming statement?

3. Economic Development

a. Can we prioritize use of the space for local/regional baseball programs during the

on-season, not just MiLB, focused on building stronger connections with youth, families, community groups, and schools?

b. Can we contract targets for MWBE and locally-owned/produced/distributed food & beverages including and beyond local beer? (condiments/hot sauce, bread, hummus, chips, sweets, proteins, etc.)

c. Can we contract for use of local business? (printing, embroidery, gift-shop space, etc.)

d. Can we work with a project manager that focuses on our MWBE contracting outcomes?

4. Other Logistics

a. Some cities include an ownership model, like Green Bay Packers. Have we looked for percentage ownership?

b. What clauses do we have in place if there are issues that lead to contract breaches? What if the team folds or the minor league systems fold?

c. What is the cost of not maintaining the team? For example, what’s the annual maintenance cost without the Tourists? 

d. In comparison to other cities that knock down and rebuild stadiums, what are the environmental and financial benefits of adaptive reuse we can communicate to the public? 

e. Could we program non-MiLB baseball? 

As we approach deadlines, Council has a work session scheduled regarding McCormick Field on Tuesday, February 14th at 3:30pm in City Hall.

Thank you to everyone pitching ideas and calling for support of affordable, family-friendly spaces and events. I am rooting for the home team too, which is why I’m calling for a better deal for Asheville’s McCormick Field!